Ohio drew a record crowd for its game against Ohio State on Tuesday night, with 1,009 fans packed into the stands at Ohio Softball Field. But the support drawn wasn’t enough to help Ohio pull out a win, and it fell 6-1.
Although the box score may not show it, the Bobcats remained competitive with phenomenal fielding Tuesday. Right out of the gate, Caitlin Fogue made an excellent grab in left field to end the first inning. Other highlights from Ohio’s defensive effort included Annalia Paoli almost flipping head over heels while reaching into the dugout to catch a foul ball and a long throw home from second base that prevented a run from scoring.
There were also great back-to-back plays in the third inning. Paoli snagged a line drive to third base, and a leaping grab in right field by Tori Walker took away what might’ve turned into an extra base hit.
Despite a strong night for fielding, the Bobcats ran cold on offense. Buckeyes starting pitcher Allison Smith blew pitches by the Bobcats and shut them out of the first three innings. But the Bobcats came alive in the fourth inning. They jumped on top of Smith with a pair of doubles from Sophia Bernard and Walker. Tori O’Brien came in to pinch run for Bernard and later cashed in the Bobcats’ lone run of the game off Walker’s double.
Ohio battled more than its deficit showed. Tiny adjustments and failing to square up the ball changed the course of the game. In the fourth inning, Lauren Yuhas got under a pitch that carried to the warning track. Ohio had loaded the bases, and Yuhas was just a few feet away from a grand slam.
“We had a couple of hard hit balls with runners in scoring position but just didn’t fall,” Ohio coach Kenzie Roark said. “They were just getting things to fall their way a little bit better than we were, honestly. But I felt like we did a good job of playing them tough, and it was a competitive game the whole time.”
Ohio State racked up a handful of runs with aggressive base running. Despite strong defensive efforts from Ohio all day, Ohio State thought ahead and used strategic base running to bring runners home.
In the circle, Mackensie Kohl grinded out another complete game. Kohl wasn’t perfect, however. She allowed six runs and 10 hits off in seven innings of work. But the senior maintained poise in the circle, and she showed no signs of disarray even after allowing a pair of home runs.
“She fought hard,” Roark said. “A couple of balls left the yard, and that’s kind of her M.O. a little bit. She does a lot of rise balls, and it’s high risk, high reward … and they’re a good hitting team. I thought she did well.”
Ohio didn’t pull out a win in its second home game of the season. But it remained in contention thanks to a strong fielding performance, and the crowd at Ohio Softball Field only fueled that intensity.
“Half of my team has never played in front of that many people,“ Roark said. "They feed off of our fans. It was fun in between innings, and it’s a great feeling coming out here and seeing that many fans. Makes you want to play hard and play tough.”